Concussions: Getting Your Head in the Game Isn’t Always Smart

ptsd

heading soccer ball can cause brain damageIf you’re a soccer fan, nothing can compare with the sight of a player “heading” the ball into the goal. Being able to do that takes years of practice—practice that aside from improving skills, may be causing brain damage–even if it doesn’t cause a concussion.  [Read more...]

Excuse Me, Teacher, after We Chew Gum, Can We Play a Video Game?

chewing gum and video games improve memory, concentration, and reaction time

chewing gum and video games improve memory, concentration, and reaction timeLooking for the latest miracle drug? Well, you might not have to go any further than your neighborhood grocery store. And it shouldn’t cost any more than a pack of gum. Oh, wait. That miracle drug actually is gum, according to a team of Japanese researchers. And in Italy, a team of researchers found that dyslexic kids did better on reading tests after they’d played action video games.

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Sure you love your kids—but do they know that?

We all know how important it is to tell our kids we love them (or do we?). But how often do we actually show them? In a very cool study that was just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that the children of nurturing, caring parents have larger hippocampi (hippocampus is the singular, but we all have two—one on each side of the brain) than kids whose parents are less nurturing and caring.

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Is your child using his head? Maybe he shouldn’t be

When I was about 10, I was playing on a  little league baseball team. In one game I lost a fly ball in the sun and the ball hit me in the head. I lost consciousness for a few seconds, which was probably a good thing since getting hit in the head with a fly ball was one of the most embarrassing moments of my young life. My dad took me to the emergency room and they sent me home after a few hours of observation. Fortunately, no concussion.

I was pretty lucky, but thousands of other kids aren’t. Some get their brain rattled in a fall, others playing sports. Even activities people thought were safe, like heading a soccer ball, interestingly, can produce a concussion (heading has actually been linked to brain damage).

Concussions are definitely not something you can just shake off and go back to whatever you were doing when it happened (assuming you can remember what that was). For most kids, the symptoms go away within a few months, but for 10-20 percent of young concussion survivors, symptoms–including forgetfulness, fatigue, difficulty paying attention, balance problems, and headaches–can last a year or longer.

If your child has received a good smack on the head, it’s important to pay attention to his or her behavior afterwards. If your child exhibits any concussion symptoms (different sleeping patterns, mood changes, problems with thinking and decision making) the CDC recommends that you get in to see the child’s pediatrician. And if the child is complains of headaches that won’t go away, seems to been uncoordinated, vomits or is nauseous, slurs his speech, or won’t eat or nurse, get in your can and head off to the hospital right away.

There’s an abstract of the full study, which was published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, here: http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/archpediatrics.2011.1082